87 Days till CHRISTMAS!!
Do you have your ADVENT wreath cleaned and ready!
(And have you bought my gift yet? He, he)
Today in Catholic History:
† 235 – St Pontianus ends his reign as Catholic Pope
† 855 – Benedict III begins his reign as Catholic Pope
† 1637 – Lorenzo Ruiz, Filipino saint
† 1642 – Death René Goupil, French Catholic missionary, one of Canadian Martyrs (b. 1608)
† 1691 – Birth of Richard Challoner, English Catholic prelate (d. 1781)
† 1850 – The Roman Catholic hierarchy is re-established in England and Wales by Pope Pius IX.
† 1963 – The second period of the Second Vatican Council opens.
† 1979 – Pope John Paul II became the first pope to set foot on Irish soil with his pastoral visit to the Republic of Ireland.
† 2006 – Death Louis-Albert Cardinal Vachon, French Canadian Catholic archbishop of Quebec (b. 1912)
(From the “On This Day” Blog Site
“Today in Catholic History”
Quote or Joke of the Day:
Be fishers of men. You catch ‘em – He’ll clean them.
Today’s reflection is about Nathanael (Bartholomew) coming to Jesus.
47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true Israelite. There is no duplicity in him.” 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” 50 Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” 51 And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (NAB John 1:47-51)
Nathanael may well have been one of the very first disciples of Jesus, along with his friend Philip (John 1:43-51). It is generally believed that Nathanael is the Apostle Bartholomew in the Synoptic Gospels. John does not call Nathanael as “Bartholomew,” but in lists of the Twelve Apostles from the Synoptic Gospels, Bartholomew is designated by his family Bar-Tolmai (meaning son of Tolmai), and it is assumed that it is this specific individual whom John designates by the name Nathanael.
The main reasons for this assumption are that (1) the circumstances under which Nathanael was called do not differ in solemnity from those connected with the call of Peter, making it only natural that he, as Peter, was numbered among the Twelve; (2) Nathanael is mentioned as being present with other Apostles after the Resurrection described in John 21; and (3) Nathanael was brought to Jesus by Philip (John 1:45). Also making it significant is that (4) Bartholomew is always mentioned next to Philip in the lists of the Twelve Apostles as given in the Synoptic Gospels.
(Trivia time: “Nathanael” translates to “God has given,” and “Bartholomew” translates to either “son of furrows” [i.e., rich in land] or “son of Ptolemy”.)
What was actually meant when Jesus said that Nathanael was “a true Israelite” and that “there is no duplicity in him?” Well, to explain this, let’s first look in Genesis 32:29. Jacob was the first to bear the name “Israel,” when God (through an angel) changed Jacob’s name because he had contended with divine and human beings, and prevailed (he wrestled the angel). But, Jacob, unlike Nathanael was a man of “duplicity” (being deceitful or disloyal). Remember, in Genesis 27:35-36, Jacob tricked his brother Esau twice by taking away his birthright, and later his father’s blessing! Jacobs name definitely fit him: “Jacob” translates to “he who supplants (replaces or ousts someone).” His new name also fit him as well. After wrestling with the angel, Jacobs named was changed to “Israel:” meaning “God contended.”
The fig tree in the context of this Gospel reading is a symbol of the messianic peace described in Micah 4:4 and Zechariah 3:10. Micah talks about men sitting under his fig tree undisturbed when he hears the “Lord” speak. Zechariah relates that on this day you will invite one another under your fig tree as well.
By Nathanael calling Jesus the “Son of God,” he is using an Old Testament title of adoption for the king of the Davidic line, and thus, the “King of Israel” in a messianic sense. Being called the “Son of God” also points to Jesus’ divinity; shown later in John 20:28: “Thomas answered and said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’”
With the knowledge just presented about hearing Jesus talk, and all sitting under the fig tree (a tree that gave life through the oil for lamps, food, medicine, and wood – all from the fig and tree itself), and now realizing that Jesus was prophesized in the Old Testament genealogical line; Thomas’ exclaiming to Jesus, “My Lord and my God” forms a true scholarly inclusion with the very first verse of John’s Gospel: “and the Word was God.”
The double “Amen” in verse 51 is characteristic of John. I think of Jesus saying “Amen, Amen” as meaning “Yo, you better listen to this. It is very important.” “You” in this verse is actually plural in Greek. Being from St. Louis, we would just say “You’se.”
And finally, from the same verse 51, “Ascending and descending on the Son of Man” alludes to the “Jacob’s ladder” from Genesis 28:12: “Then he had a dream: a stairway rested on the ground, with its top reaching to the heavens; and God’s messengers were going up and down on it.” “Stairway” is “sullam” in Hebrew, and this word is traditionally, but inaccurately translated as “ladder.” The corresponding verb, “salal,” means “to pile up” something, such as dirt for a highway or ramp. The imagery is a tower “with its top in the sky” (Genesis 11:4) and brick steps leading up to a small temple of some type at the top.
Nathanael is hailed by Jesus for having no “duplicities.” What a great personality to have, and one I think we all should strive for in all our endeavors. Everyone has his or her own personality, and we all should be journeying towards being holy in this life, in order to be holy in the next. The more we become holy, the closer we come to God. I know that I am not even close to the holiness of Nathanael, our soon-to-be-a saint John Paul II, or even Saint Mother Theresa of Calcutta; but with God’s grace we all can be led us to a wholeness – a completeness – with Him in paradise.
“Saint Michael the Archangel Prayer”
“Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the malice and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.”
Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO
A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day: Michael, Gabriel and Raphael
Angels—messengers from God—appear frequently in Scripture, but only Michael, Gabriel and Raphael are named.
Michael appears in Daniel’s vision as “the great prince” who defends Israel against its enemies; in the Book of Revelation, he leads God’s armies to final victory over the forces of evil. Devotion to Michael is the oldest angelic devotion, rising in the East in the fourth century. The Church in the West began to observe a feast honoring Michael and the angels in the fifth century.
Gabriel also makes an appearance in Daniel’s visions, announcing Michael’s role in God’s plan. His best-known appearance is an encounter with a young Jewish girl named Mary, who consents to bear the Messiah.
Raphael’s activity is confined to the Old Testament story of Tobit. There he appears to guide Tobit’s son Tobiah through a series of fantastic adventures which lead to a threefold happy ending: Tobiah’s marriage to Sarah, the healing of Tobit’s blindness and the restoration of the family fortune.
The memorials of Gabriel (March 24) and Raphael (October 24) were added to the Roman calendar in 1921. The 1970 revision of the calendar joined their feasts to Michael’s.
Each of these archangels performs a different mission in Scripture: Michael protects; Gabriel announces; Raphael guides. Earlier belief that inexplicable events were due to the actions of spiritual beings has given way to a scientific world-view and a different sense of cause and effect. Yet believers still experience God’s protection, communication and guidance in ways which defy description. We cannot dismiss angels too lightly.
“The question of how many angels could dance on the point of a pin no longer is absurd in molecular physics, with its discovery of how broad that point actually is, and what part invisible electronic ‘messengers’ play in the dance of life” (Lewis Mumford).
Patron Saint of: Death, Germany, Grocers, Police officers, & Radiologists
Saint of the Day: Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.;
revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
(From http://www.americancatholic.org website)
Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Prologue to the Rule:
Exhortation of Saint Francis to the Brothers and Sisters in Penance
In the name of the Lord!
Concerning Those Who Do Penance
All who love the Lord with their whole heart, with their whole soul and mind, with all their strength (cf. Mk 12:30), and love their neighbors as themselves (cf. Mt 22:39) and hate their bodies with their vices and sins, and receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and produce worthy fruits of penance.
Oh, how happy and blessed are these men and women when they do these things and persevere in doing them, because “the spirit of the Lord will rest upon them” (cf. Is 11:2) and he will make “his home and dwelling among them” (cf Jn 14:23), and they are the sons of the heavenly Father (cf. Mt 5:45), whose works they do, and they are the spouses, brothers, and mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Mt 12:50).
We are spouses, when by the Holy Spirit the faithful soul is united with our Lord Jesus Christ; we are brothers to him when we fulfill “the will of the Father who is in heaven” (Mt 12:50).
We are mothers, when we carry him in our heart and body (cf. 1 Cor 6:20) through divine love and a pure and sincere conscience; we give birth to him through a holy life which must give life to others by example (cf. Mt 5:16).
Oh, how glorious it is to have a great and holy Father in heaven! Oh, how glorious it is to have such a beautiful and admirable Spouse, the Holy Paraclete.
Oh, how glorious it is to have such a Brother and such a Son, loved, beloved, humble, peaceful, sweet, lovable, and desirable above all: Our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave up his life for his sheep (cf. Jn 10:15) and prayed to the Father saying:
“Oh, holy Father, protect them with your name (cf. Jn 17:11) whom you gave me out of the world. I entrusted to them the message you entrusted to me and they received it. They have known that in truth I came from you; they have believed that it was you who sent me. For these I pray, not for the world (cf. Jn 17:9). Bless and consecrate them, and I consecrate myself for their sakes. I do not pray for them alone; I pray also for those who will believe in me through their word (cf. Jn 17:20) that they may be holy by being one, as we are (cf. Jn 17:11). And I desire, Father, to have them in my company where I am to see this glory of mine in your kingdom” (cf. Jn 17:6-24).